Archive for May, 2017

Nats Run Support Continues for Ross

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

In his first three starts for Joe Ross the Nationals have provided him with ample run support, winning by scores of 14-4, 15-12 and 23-5. Poor pitching on his part left him with only one victory. The run support was not as great last night but Ross will take the 10 runs. He also pitched well, allowing just one run in his eight innings of work for a Nationals 10-1 win.

It was an overcast night with the clouds raining drizzle from the first inning to the eighth. During the third through fourth innings the rain came down harder creating small pools of water collecting throughout the infield. The grounds crew came on a couple times to pour dirt into those pools to dry out the infield. When the rain tapered down in the fifth the pools of water failed to reappear.

The Mariners started Christian Bergman. All their normal starters are on the disabled list so the Mariners are going with a new group of five. Bergman pitched decent his first three innings. Anthony Rendon tagged him for a towering homerun near the foul pole in short left field for two runs. When Bergman got to the fourth inning it was a disaster.

The Nationals hit for the cycle in the fourth. Anthony Rendon started the inning with a double into the right centerfield gap. Matt Wieters drove him in with a single. A Michael Taylor single put runners on first and second with no out and pitcher Joe Ross up. Dusty Baker had Joe swinging and he hit a sharp grounder to Jean Segura who turned a double play.

Just as things looked as if they were going good for Bergman, Trea Turner lifted a high drive in right field that could not be caught by Nelson Cruz, who was caught turning the wrong way on the ball. Trea Turner glided around the soggy infield for a triple. Jayson Werth blasted a pitch from Bergman over the left field bleachers for a homerun. Bryce Harper followed by powering a pitch over the 402 marker in right center that banged against the back wall, easily a 450 foot blast. Bergman stayed out there and the assault continued. Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy hit hard singles. Anthony Rendon lifted one into right center that just carried over the 402 foot mark for his second homer of the day. When the inning was over the Nationals had scored eight runs. The only fear from Nats fans is the rain would continue, the Nationals would not make an out and the game would be called before it reached the fifth inning.

The final out was made and Ross quickly disposed of the Mariners in the top of the fifth. Mike Zunino gave the Mariners their only run by leading off the sixth with a homerun into the left field bleachers. Jean Segura hit a two out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Ben Gamel drove one into right center but Michael Taylor leaped and caught the ball at the scoreboard to end the inning. The Mariners would threaten no more with Joe Ross striking out the side in his last inning of work, the eighth.

Hats off to Emilio Pagan who came in to start the sixth. He gave up a leadoff single to Michael Taylor, but then retired the next 12 Nationals. With the game out of reach the Mariners saved their pen by having him bat twice and complete the game. His ERA went south to 6.75 while Bergman’s travelled north to 6.30.

Game Notes: Rendon had a chance for his second three homer game of the year in the seventh but popped up to second…Hard to believe the run support for Ross would drop after the Nats scored 10 runs for him. In four games the National bats have scored 62 runs, the most in major league history to start the season according to Elias…This was Robisnson Cano’s first game back from the disabled list. He failed to cover a lot of ground in the second inning on a single by Ryan Zimmerman. Robinson was shading him to pull, playing more up the middle but Zimmerman grounded it to the second base side of the bag.

Tebow Timeout

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Myworld watched Tim Tebow in a spring training game. He struggled, striking out a couple times and grounding into a double play. The ground out double play brought some positives because it scored a run. Based on what myworld saw, a major league career was a long way from happening. Now that the minor league season is close to two months old myworld thought we would take a look at Tebow to see how his minor league career is progressing.

The New York Mets sent Tebow to Low A Columbia to begin his minor league career. At 29 years of age most would expect him to dominate. Many players dominate at a level where those they are playing against are younger than them. Tebow is not. He is still struggling, but the attendance at games he plays is good. So the opportunities for him to make every effort to succeed will continue. The Tebow experiment continues.

Tebow is hitting .230 with three homeruns. When Michael Jordan began his baseball career he was 31 years of age. He started in AA where he hit .202 with just three homeruns. Michael was able to steal bases with 30 in 48 attempts. The inability to make contact was there too with 114 whiffs in 127 games. At 6′6″ Michael had a strike zone that was three inches larger than Tebow.

Tebow has yet to steal a base, though his speed is stated to be above average. He has also struck out 37 times in 35 games. His .688 OPS is higher than what Jordan could generate at .556. While about 24 percent of the hits Jordan collected went for extra bases, only 22 percent of the hits Tebow has put together have gone for extra bases. The slugging percentage of Tebow is still higher (.369 vs .266) but that is because he has strung together a greater number of singles and his homeruns are equal to Jordan with much fewer at bats. With Tebow the Mets would like to see him generate a little more power and that may come as he gains more experience.

One thing myworld did not know about Tebow is he was born in the Philippines. Perhaps Tebow could play on the Philippines next World Baseball Classic qualifying team. It might not improve their chances of winning a game, but it will generate a lot of publicity, which could attract more youth to baseball in the Philippines.

It has been at least 10 years since Tebow has last played baseball competitively. The Columbia Fireflies and the South Atlantic League is benefiting from his playing. As long as Tebow continues to have fun and he senses progress in the improvement in his skills there is no reason not to let the experiment continue. If Tebow quits too soon he will always have those doubts when he turns 50 that if he had just played a little bit longer he may have gotten his opportunity. Myworld suspects Tebow is not going to have an issue with finding another career once it is recognized that major league baseball will not be a part of his life.

We suspect that if he can not lift his average above .250 and hit double digits in homeruns the Tebow experiment will end after one year.

Hot Prospects Heading Towards the End of May

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Scott Kingery 2B (Phillies) - Perhaps the hottest hitter in the minors, Scott has blasted four homeruns in his last three games to give him 13 for the season. He was drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 draft and his total number of homeruns in his first one and a half years covering 197 games is 8. In 2017 he has hit 13 in 37 games. Reading is a hitters park but five of his 13 blasts have been on the road. He is also hitting .300 on the road versus .280 at Reading. His road OPS (1.026) is better than his home OPS (1.010) so it doesn’t seem to matter where Scott plays.

Luis Urias 2B (Padres) - He does not hit a lot of homeruns but is known for his ability to make contact (25/20 walk to whiff). An eight game hitting streak (14 for 37) has kept his average at .344. Luis has scored 29 runs in 41 games with enough gap power to collect 11 doubles for a .485 slugging. Don’t expect Luis to dazzle you with speed or power. He just makes contact and hopes the ball finds the gaps.

Sam Travis 1B (Red Sox) - Sam had back to back games in which he went deep, then followed that up with a five hit game. The four game multiple hitting streak rose his average to .299. Sam is considered the Red Sox first baseman of the future. Last year injuries limited him to 47 games so this appears to be the bounce back season he was looking for.

Danny Jansen C (Blue Jays) - After hitting .369 with five homeruns and a .963 OPS Danny got his promotion to AA. That has not proved much of a challenge as he rounded up seven hits in his first 16 at bats for a .438 average. His four extra base hits have all been doubles. Danny was a 16th round pick in 2013. His best average going into the 2017 season was .282. The five homeruns he hit early this season has tied his career high (2014 and 2015). Danny has found that magical mystery zone.

Alfredo Rodriguez SS (Reds) - The Cuban with the slick glove is trying to make people notice his bat. A 5 for 5 day in which he drove in four runs raised his average to .278. At 22 years of age he is due a promotion from Low A. Only six of his 45 hits have gone for extra bases, all of them doubles dragging his slugging percentage to .309. In his last 10 games he has hit .439.

Estevan Florial CF (Yankees) - One of the few players born in Haiti, Estevan has gone 6 for 9 in his last two games, crossing the plate five times and driving in three. He tends to strike out too much (50 in 39 games), which has kept his average at .282.

Willie Calhoun 2B (Dodgers) - The balls are jumping off his bat. In his last seven games Willie has gone deep five times. Of his last 10 hits five of them have carried over the fence. His average has creeped above .300 (.310). If he can improve his defense Willie could be ready for a major league opportunity. There was some talk of moving him to left field but all 30 of his games have been at second base.

Parker Bridwell RHP (Angels) - The Orioles traded Parker to the Angels for cash after he gave up 8 runs in four innings in his first two appearances with Norfolk. The Angels started him in AA and have now promoted him to AAA after he gave up only two runs in nine innings. In AAA the opposition is hitting him at only a .143 clip and he has a 1.02 ERA after three starts. Only 25 the Angels could have him in the rotation by mid-season if the injuries keep piling up.

Jose De Leon RHP (Rays) - After throwing five innings of no hit ball in the Florida State League the Rays have promoted De Leon to AAA. A couple good starts there could have him on their major league roster. The Rays traded Logan Forsyth to acquire De Leon from the Dodgers but arm issues have delayed the start of his season.

Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - Each time Jon goes out on the mound another shutout is thrown. His last three times out covering 17 innings he has not given up an earned run. In his eight appearances, seven of them starts he has not given up an earned run. The opposition is hitting just .149 against him and his ERA sits at a gaudy 0.64.

Rogelio Armenteros RHP (Astros) - The Cuban did not give up a hit in five innings of work in his last outing. He has gone 13 innings since he has last given up a run dropping his ERA to 1.25. Rogelio was signed in 2015, pitched for Spain in the 2016 WBC qualifier and is limiting AA hitters to a .181 average.

Austin Sodders LHP (Tigers) - The seventh round 2016 pick has been dominating at Low A with a 5-0, 0.73 ERA. He has only given up runs in two of his seven starts. In a three start span he struck out 28 in 17 innings. Expect a promotion to High A if he continues this domination.

Mike O’Reilly RHP (Cardinals) - Mike was two outs from pitching a nine inning no hitter. A one out single ended those hopes and ended his outing after 8.1 innings. During that time he struck out 10 with only one walk. In six appearances, three of them starts Mike has only walked three hitters in his 26 innings. The opposition is hitting just .156 against him.

Scott Moss LHP (Reds) - Scott threw the first six innings of the first no hitter thrown by the Dayton Dragons. Moss walked three in the outing but it was his second consecutive shutout appearance covering 11 innings, dropping his ERA to 1.91. The win improved his record to 6-1. The Reds drafted Moss in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.

Corbin Burnes RHP (Brewers) - The fourth round pick of the 2016 draft has dominated the Carolina League. In his last four starts he has only given up one run. His last start he struck out a career high 10 in seven innings. After nine starts Corbin sits at 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA and a .189 opposition average. He is ready for a promotion to AA.

Travis Blast All Jays Need in Win Over O’s

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Devon Travis slugged a three run homerun in the first inning. It was all the Toronto Blue Jays needed in their 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Marco Estrada tantalized them the rest of the way with his 90 mile per hour fastball, striking out 12 before his day was done after giving up a two out single in the eighth. The win saved the Blue Jays from being swept in the series.

Wade Miley also pitched well for the Orioles. Some would argue the three runs shouldn’t have scored since they all were unearned. Jonathan Schoop got lazy on a two out grounder from Kendrys Morales, backhanding it instead of circling in front of the ball and having the ball glance off his glove. Justin Smoak singled to right field to keep the inning alive for Travis. He drove the first pitch he saw from Miley deep into the left field bleachers for a 3-0 lead.

Miley would go seven innings. He gave up just four hits through the next six innings. The only offense the Orioles could generate was a solo homerun by Adam Jones in the fourth that also carried into the left field bleachers. It tied him with Rafael Palmeiro for the most homeruns hit in Camden Yards.

The Orioles advanced a runner to third with one out in the third after a Trey Mancini double but Paul Janish struck out. They also got a runner to second in the eighth but Chris Davis looked at his third strike three call on his third 91 mile per hour fastball that split the plate.

Game Notes: The 12 strikeouts by Marco Estrada was a career high. Manny Machado and Chris Davis were both caught looking on pedestrian 91 mile per hour fastballs in back to back at bats. For Chris Davis he was caught looking three times, once by Joe Smith…The Adam Jones homerun was his 124th at Camden Yards. That ties him with Rafael Palmeiro for the most homeruns in Camden Yards…The ushers are tough about ticket holders parking themselves in better seats along the left field bleachers near the foul pole. They kicked a number of squatters out. As they were kicked out the squatters would complain the section is empty. If you wanted to sit there you should have bought a ticket for that section. By the fifth inning the gates opened and all the Little Leaguers who attended the game were crowding into the left field bleacher section. Perhaps that was why the ushers were keeping non-ticket holders out. The Little Leaguers were promised the opportunity to move up after the fourth inning. It seemed strange to be the only one in section 72 through the first four innings then have a flood of fans race to that section in the fifth inning…Adam Jones finished with three of the seven Oriole hits…Anthony Alford gets down the first base line very quickly. He almost beat out two routine grounders. He is still looking for his first major league hit…Odd watching two Schoops on back to back days. Sharlon is in Bowie and Jonathan plays in Baltimore.

Bay Sox Nip the Rumble Ponies

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Aderlin Rodriguez lined a pitch over the left field fence to break a 1-1 tie and the Bay Sox held on for a 4-3 win. Brandon Barker pitched well allowing just one run in his five innings of work. His first 11 pitches in the game were strikes with his fastball hitting 93-95.

The Rumble Ponies started catching up to Barker in the second. After two were out they collected three consecutive singles to load the bases. Champ Stuart came up and swung at and missed on a 94 mile per hour heater, the second of what would be four whiffs to end the threat. They had runners on first and third with two outs in the third but David Thompson lined out to center field.

It was an error by third baseman Sean Coyle on a leadoff grounder by L.J. Mazilli that broke the shutout in the fourth. Colton Plaiai blooped a single into left center. Mazilli was going on the pitch and easily took third. The only time Champ made contact on the night he bounced one to short. The Bay Sox tried to turn two but the speedy Stuart stepped on first just as the throw hit the mitt. Mazilli scored on the play to put the Ponies up 1-0.

Corey Oswalt was pitching well for the Rumble Ponies, his fastball hitting 96 but sitting in the 93 mile per hour range. The Bay Sox threatened, putting runners on first and third with one out in the third but a Jay Gonzalez strikeout and D.J. Stewart ground out prevented them from scoring. A one out double in the fourth had Garabez Rosa at third with two out when Erick Salcedo struck out.

Down 1-0 into the fifth Sharlon Schoop grounded a two out single into left field, the second hit for Schoop in the game. Jay Gonzalez drove a pitch into the left center field gap. A poor route by the left fielder and two weak throws could not get Schoop as he raced home, the throw from the cutoff man Jio Mier off line. The Bay Sox were to load the bases later in the inning for their top hitter Garabez Rosa but he grounded to short to end the inning tied at 1-1.

Aderlin Rodriguez led off the sixth with his line drive homerun. The Bay Sox upped the advantage to 4-1 in the seventh scoring two off reliever Cory Burns, who at 29 last appeared in the major leagues in 2013. Jay Gonzalez hit a one out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. D.J. Stewart lined a pitch down the right field line for a double, cruising into second and just barely beating the throw from right field. Austin Wynns walked and this time Garabez Rosa came through with a single over the shortstop to score Stewart from second. Austin Wynns got caught straying too far off second and was picked off by the cutoff throw trying to dive back into second. The rally ended with the Bay Sox up 4-1.

Lucas Long pitched four innings of relief. He stranded runners on second and third with two out in the eighth striking out Colton Plaia, his third strikeout of the inning. In his four innings of work Long struck out 8. With two outs in the ninth Kevin Taylor rifled a single up the middle. Cody Decker lifted a 1-1 pitch over the tall wall in left field to pull the Ponies to within one. Kevin Kazmarski lined the first pitch he saw for a single into left field. Long got ahead of David Thompson 0-2, threw a breaking pitch in the dirt and got Thompson swinging and missing for the third out.

Game Notes: The Bay Sox are one minor league team that does not have netting to stop foul balls lined into the third base and first base areas. That proved tragic last night when a line drive from left handed hitter Luis Guillorme struck a child as it rifled over the third base dugout. The game was delayed for 30 minutes while Bay Sox officials tended to the child and before emergency medics could arrive to take the child to the hospital on a stretcher…Champ Stuart had a rough day going 0 for 5 with four whiffs. Luis Guillorme also went 0 for 5 to drop his average below .300. He was playing second base as the Mets recognize Amed Rosario will be the shortstop of the future…D.J. Stewart has some speed for a big guy. His arm is best suited for left field and his bat (.239 average and .769 OPS) has still not convinced my world he will be an impact major leaguer. Stewart was selected by the Orioles in the first round in 2015, the 25th player selected in the draft…Sean Coyle does not appear comfortable at third base. At one point he was considered a Red Sox prospect as a second baseman. He has bounced around between second and third with the Bay Sox, but his glove work at third last night was poor…Garabez Rosa made a nice catch in centerfield. His .344 average is fourth in the Eastern League but at 27 he is an organizational player. If the Orioles have room on their 40 man roster they may call him up, but it would be at the expense of another player being removed from the 40 man roster…Austin Wynns is third in the Eastern League in average at .344 but at 26 he is also more an organizational player…Corey Oswalt came into the game with a 2.04 ERA, which was third in the Eastern League. He was a seventh round pick of the Mets in 2012. This is his first season in AA.

White Sox Sign Luis Robert

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

They had international salary cap available, i.e. were willing to pay the penalty for going over the cap (other teams were prohibited from pursuing Luis Robert because they were restricted to $300,000 maximum to sign a player). They had two Cubans on their team or in the minor leagues in Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada. They had a Spanish speaking manager in Rick Rentaria. Those were enough to convince Luis Robert to sign with the White Sox.

Plus a bonus that almost equaled that given out to Yoan Moncada that shot between $25 - 30 million. Since the White Sox exceeded their international salary cap space they will have to pay a penalty of close to $25 million, or just short of one on one. They did ease the burden a bit by making a trade with the Orioles to increase slightly their international salary cap, trading Alex Katz for two international slots totaling $750 thousand. The Orioles are always willing trade partners for international signing slots since they rarely sign foreign players. The White Sox international pool limit was $2.9 million.

Robert will begin the season in extended spring training to get some reps in. How he progresses will dictate where he begins his season. The rookie leagues are not that far off, beginning June 19. Robert has the talent to begin his career in Low A.

Roel Santos to Play for Marines

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Cuban outfielder Roel Santos has signed a contract to play for the Chibba Lotte Marines in the NPB. The contract according to YakyuDB is estimated at $200,000. He will begin the season once he gets a work visa.

Santos does not have any power. He could hit for average which would allow him to use his speed to steal bases. His defense fits the mold of a centerfielder. The Marines currently have the worst record in the NPB. They have not been getting a lot of production from their foreign bats Matt Duffy (.213) and Jimmy Paredes (.174).

Kang Loses DUI Appeal

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

If anyone was wondering where Pirate third baseman Jung-Ho Kang is he has been in Korea and had been apparently drinking a lot of alcohol during the off season. He was convicted of a DUI offense and sentenced to eight months in prison. The problem with this most recent DUI was it was his third DUI and there was hit and run involved with a guard rail. He had DUI convictions in 2009 and 2011 and evidently had a reputation in Korea as a party animal. The Pirates were evidently caught by surprise with this information. It certainly does not help future Korean players negotiate contracts with major league teams.

The prison time was suspended, but the felony conviction prevented Kang from getting a work visa. He appealed the conviction, hoping to reduce it to a fine, which would make it easier to get a work visa but that appeal was lost yesterday. Now it is unclear whether he will get a work visa for the remainder of his contract, which runs through 2019. The Pirates are still working on getting him a visa.

What may not help him is his sexual assault allegation that still hangs around in Chicago. That investigation involves a woman who initially alleged she was drugged and raped. That doesn’t sound like someone I would want in my country, regardless of what country it is if I was the official issuing the work visa. The sexual assault case has not been pursued because the woman has not cooperated with the investigation after the allegations were made. The police investigation for that case remains open as of March 2017 but with Kang still in Korea it may be difficult to pursue.

Even if Kang can return to the United States he could be facing suspensions as a result of the sexual assault allegations and/or drunk driving convictions. Hopefully the party animal has been behaving himself while stranded in Korea. Another bad incident will be a death sentence to his major league career and a bad look for other Korean players looking at the major leagues.

At this point it would be interesting to see if the KBO would allow him to play if he tried to continue his career in Korea if the major league opportunities dry up.

NPB Review - Central League

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The more popular league in Japan with two of the older teams in the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers. Many compare their rivalry equal to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Hanshin Tigers (23-12)

They have a number of stars on this team but their most consistent hitter is probably Yoshio Itoi. Last year Itoi stole a career high 53 bases at age 35. The stolen bases have slowed but his bat continues to glow with a .323 average, 5 homeruns and team leading 28 RBIs. Takashi Toritani found no major league interest in his services last year, slumped to a .236 average and was asked to move from shortstop. This has created a resurgence in his bat with a .325 average and one homerun. The power is gone but he can still get on base. Ex-major leaguer Kosuke Fukudome continues to shine with the bat, hitting .306. His five homeruns is tied with Itoi and Masahiro Nakatani for the team lead and his 23 RBIs is second to Itoi. Eric Cambell (.227) has been a major disappointment as a foreign bat.

Many feel Shintaro Fujinami will be a better pitcher in the long haul than Shohei Otani. He was the ace on the 18 and under team with Otani the number two starter. Otani is on the disabled list while Fujinami is 3-1, 1.67. The down side is the strikeout numbers are down for Fujinami (15) while the walk numbers are up (25) in just 32 innings. Randy Messenger is in his eighth year with Hanshin and continues to shine (5-0, 2.38). Rafael Dolis failed as a closer with the Cubs, but his 15 saves leads the Central League. Marcus Mateo (3-0, 2.04, 12 holds) is the main setup man.

Hirshima Carp (23-15-1)

The Carp have cooled off since sitting perched at the top of the standings early in the season. Brad Eldred (.327, 10, 29) hopes to have a healthy year where his power bat leads the Carp. In his first five years with the team Brad has played in more than 100 games in just one season. At 22 years of age Seiya Suzuki (.303, 8, 31) is one of the shining stars in this league. His 31 RBIs lead the Carp. This is his second full season in the NPB. Yoshihiro Maru (.322, 6, 22) gets on base for the sluggers where he has scored 31 runs. Tomohiro Abe (.371) is another table setter.

Yusuke Nomura (3-1, 1.91) has been their most consistent starter. Last year was a breakout season for Nomura with 16 wins. Akitake Okade (4-1, 3.56) is picking up the wins in his second year but showing some inconsistency and command issues. Jay Jackson has picked up 11 holds and has yet to give up a run in 17 appearances.

Yomiuri Giants (19-17)

The Giants best player is shortstop Hayato Sakamota (.362, 6, 20). Watch for him jumping to the major leagues in a couple years. Casey McGehee (.315, 6, 24) has been the most productive foreign bat for the Giants. Veteran Shinnosuke Abe (.292, 8, 33) started the season strong but has slowed a bit. His 33 RBIs is tops on the team. Abe has 381 career homeruns and needs two more to reach double digits in homers for 17 straight seasons.

Tomoyuki Sugano (5-1, 1.78) has been the ace. Last year he was 11 whiffs shy of 200. Miles Nikolas (4-2, 2.74) is the top foreign pitcher in the starting rotation. Two foreigners close out the games. The high 90s heat of Arquimedes Caminero (0-1, 1.59, 10 saves) closes out the games. His stuff fits well in the NPB. Scott Mathieson (0.98, 11 holds) is the set up man for the Giants pitching in his sixth season. In 2014 he accumulated 30 saves. Tetsuya Utsumi (1-3, 5.54) continues to struggle and the Giants may need to look for an alternative for the veteran.

Yokahama Bay Stars (16-19-2)

They have not been getting a lot of production from their young superstar Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (.278, 3, 18). Last year Yoshitomo hit 44 homeruns and drove in 110. He is one of the many WBC performers struggling early in the season. Making up for the sleeping bat of Tsutsugo is Jose Lopez (.333, 7, 28). Lopez is in his fifth NPB season, his third with the Bay Stars. Last year he had a career year in the NPB with 34 homeruns and 95 RBIs. Takayuki Kajitani (.255, 7, 21) also has seven homeruns.

Pitching has been the trouble spot for the Stars. Joe Wieland (3-0, 2.63) is the only starter with an ERA less than 4. Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-1, 1.02, 2 saves) may return to his role as the closer with the struggles of Spencer Patton (2-2, 4.15, 6 saves). In his first two years Yasuaki converted 70 saves, though last year his ERA was at a high 3.59.

Yakult Swallows (15-22)

The highlight to their season are the two walkoff grand slam homeruns. No team in the history of the NPB has blasted two walk off grand slam homeruns in the same season. And they still have 100 games to go before the 2017 season is done. Like the Bay Stars the Swallows are getting very little production from Tetsuto Yamada (.233, 4, 14). The last two years Yamada has hit over .300 with 38 homeruns in each season. He was a 30/30 man in 2015 and 2016 but only has four homeruns and six stolen bases this year in a quarter of the season. Wladimir Balentien (.290, 5, 16) is another bat that needs to start hitting for the offense to thrive. In 2013 he broke the NPB record for homeruns in a season with 60 but injuries have limited him. He has hit 31 homeruns in four of his other six NPB seasons but the fans expect more.

Yasuhiro Ogawa (3-2, 1.98) and David Buchanan (2-2, 2.40) are having solid seasons but are not being supported by an anemic offense.

Chunichi Dragons (12-23-3)

The only good thing the Dragons can say about their season is they are better than the Marines. So far. They have the troubled Alex Guerrero (.256, 7, 19) who finds the uniform he is wearing very similar to his old team in Los Angeles. At least with the Dragons he has found a position he can play. Dayan Viciedo (.271, 6, 21) is his Cuban mate. The duo are about the only offense on this Dragon team. Yohei Oshima (.327, 1, 11) hits for average but his run production is unimpressive.

The starting pitching has Katsuki Matayoshi (2-0, 2.16) and foreign contributors Jordan Norberto (2-0, 1.76) and Raul Valdes (1-1, 1.98). Raul is another Cuban connection. The Japanese have always had pretty good success against the Cubans in international events. Having too many Cubans on your professional team may not be an advantage. At least not for the Dragons.

Another May Prospect Review

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Christian Walker 1B (Diamondbacks) - At 26 and recently put on waivers by the Orioles Christian is not much of a prospect. But he did hit for the cycle in a 4 for 6 game, driving in five runs. He is an RBI machine with his 42 leading the Pacific Coast League. His 10 homeruns is second in the league, but the league leader Jamie Romak has left for the KBO.

Colton Welker 3B (Rockies) - Colton will not move Nolan Arenado from third base. At 19 years of age the Rockies have a long time to figure out where they want to place him. He is wearing out Low A pitchers. A 13 for 21 five game hitting streak has elevated his average to .355. He has homered in his last two games driving in 7 of the 18 runs he has driven in all year.

Johan Mieses CF (Dodgers) - When Johan hits the ball they usually go over the fence. In a three game stretch he collected five of his 10 hits for the year, four of them clearing the fence. Five of his 10 hits have cleared the fence. The 36 whiffs in 24 games has anchored his average at .125 in AA.

Tyler Wade SS (Yankees) - Shortstop appears to be well stocked in the Yankees minor league system. Tyler may not be the most heralded, but a seven game hitting streak (14 for 33) raised his average to .326 and produced his first two homeruns. Tyler has 12 steals in 15 attempts and has already appeared on this list twice, one more than Gleyber Torres.

Brendan Rodgers SS (Rockies) - Brendan is in the midst of a 13 game hitting streak that puts his average at a Ted Williams like .405. A promotion from the California League looks to be on the horizon.

Ryan Mountcastle SS (Orioles) - The Orioles will be looking for a shortstop in a couple years after J.J. Hardy departs and Machado follows him a year later. The 2015 first round pick had a four hit game to raise his average to .342. Ryan is showing some power with his bat, unloading for seven homeruns and 14 doubles for a .596 slugging average.

Jon Duplantier RHP (Diamondbacks) - In five starts Jon has not given up an earned run in four of them. He pitched another five innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and striking out eight. The whiffs give him 48 for his 36 innings. The opposition is hitting only .142 against him.

Kyle Lloyd RHP (Padres) - Kyle threw the third no hitter of the year, going all nine innings. He walked one and only struck out three. There was a three game stretch in which he gave up 14 runs in just under 13 innings. His other five starts he has only allowed two earned runs.

Kolby Allard LHP (Braves) - His back problems seem to be gone. In eight starts he has only given up six runs. The strikeout numbers are not great (35 in 44 innings) but hitters are not making solid contact (.190). Last year Kolby only went 87 innings. This year he has already reached 44 innings.

Lucas Sims RHP (Braves) - Up a level in AAA Sims threw 6.2 innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits, striking out 10. Lucas could be an option for the Braves in mid-season.

Chance Adams RHP (Yankees) - Chance dominated in AA, allowing just four earned runs in six starts. The opposition hit just .183 against him. Promoted to AAA he pitched five more shutout innings, allowing just two hits. The Yankees could use some starters with Tanaka struggling.

Wilmer Font RHP (Dodgers) - Wilmer had a day with 15 whiffs in just seven innings of work. He gave up one run on two hits. For the year Font has been a whiff machine with 63 in 42 innings. Font has bounced around with his high 90s fastball putting him in the closer role for a couple years. Font did not pitch in 2015 after being released by the Rangers but the Dodgers signed him in 2016 and moved him into the rotation.